Tuesday, June 14, 2011

As the Father has Loved Me so I Have Love You

9 “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. 10 If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love. 11 I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. 12 My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. 13 Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. 14 You are my friends if you do what I command. 15 I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you. 16 You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit—fruit that will last—and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you. 17 This is my command: Love each other.
18 “If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. 19 If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you. 20 Remember what I told you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also. If they obeyed my teaching, they will obey yours also. 21 They will treat you this way because of my name, for they do not know the one who sent me. 22 If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not be guilty of sin; but now they have no excuse for their sin. 23 Whoever hates me hates my Father as well. 24 If I had not done among them the works no one else did, they would not be guilty of sin. As it is, they have seen, and yet they have hated both me and my Father. 25 But this is to fulfill what is written in their Law: ‘They hated me without reason.’
The Work of the Holy Spirit
26 “When the Advocate comes, whom I will send to you from the Father—the Spirit of truth who goes out from the Father—he will testify about me. 27 And you also must testify, for you have been with me from the beginning. (John 15:9-27)

What you do with the words of Jesus matters. For those words are not merely the words of Jesus, but above all the words that He brought to us from the Father, the Words that are alive with His Spirit. Jesus tells us that if we love Him, we will keep His words. To do so is to be loved by the Father and to be given the promise that the Father and the Son will come and make their home within us.

Conversely, Jesus states that whoever does not love him does not keep his words. So you can easily check it out for yourself: do you love Jesus or not? The answer is not in how you feel (for feelings can deceive you). The answer is simply in this: do you keep his words? Do you guard and treasure them, hold onto them, reflect on them, and let them shape how you believe and how you act? If you don’t, then says Jesus, you do not love him -And not to love Him is the greatest tragedy of life.

You can well imagine how the disciples must have been feeling when Jesus said this. Jesus had taught them so many things and they had tried to remember His Words, but they kept on forgetting! Forgetting the words of Jesus, and so not living in Him, not letting His words shape their way of thinking, of interacting with each other and the world. So when he says that the measure of loving Him is in whether or not they keep hold to His words, their hearts sink. As do ours. But Jesus knows that and so He promises more.

The Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in Jesus’ name, HE will work a miracle within those apostles. He will teach them all things and bring to their remembrance all the words that Jesus said. Do you realize that we have the fulfillment of that promise to the apostles sitting up there on the altar in the Holy Book of the Gospels? There we see how faithfully Jesus kept His promise, how the Spirit came to them to help them, how the Spirit brought again to their minds with crystal clarity the words that Jesus himself had given them. And by that same Spirit they were written down for us!

But there is a danger there. Stop and think for a second about the way you operate. Why do you tend to write things down? You might say: “So that I will remember them.” But think about that. Is that really so? Isn’t it in fact the exact opposite? We write things down so that we do not have to remember them, so that we can put them out of our minds and not have to think about them. Do we bring that attitude, then, to the Holy Scriptures? To the way we listen to the words that Jesus brought from the heart of the Father to give away to us? Do we think that because we have the Bible in written form, we need not bother with putting its contents inside of us in living form? The answer to that is found by asking yourself, when is the last time you worked on learning a portion of God’s word by heart? “If anyone loves me, he will keep my word.”

And do you know why Jesus wants you to keep His Words? He tells you: “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.” Jesus wants you to have His peace within you, and His peace is the presence of God the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit who came on the Apostles today in flames of fire and opened their mouths to witness to Christ Jesus IS the Personal peace and love and joy that eternally proceeds from the Father and eternally rests on the Son. That means that Peace is a Person! Love is a Person! Joy is a Person! And that Person, the Holy Spirit himself, which Jesus receives from the Father, is His gift to you in His words so that the Spirit can live and dwell within you – that is what Jesus wants for each one of us!

Now, the peace that flows from the Holy Spirit’s presence is different from the world’s peace. Luther said that the world’s idea of peace is getting you out of trouble, while God’s peace is getting trouble out of you. Get the difference? The peace that Jesus would impart to you, the peace that comes from His Words, because the Spirit is in His Words, that peace can exist even in the midst of all kinds of heart-aches, trials, troubles, sufferings and pain. That peace flows to you from the Holy Spirit’s promises to you in the Word of God.

Peace that comes from your sins being forgiven: “And Jesus breathed on His disciples and said: Receive the Holy Spirit; if you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven!” (John 20:19,20)

Peace that comes from your death being defeated: “Whoever believes in me, even if He die, yet shall he live, and whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die.” (John 11:25,26)

Peace that comes from having a home that no one can take from you: “In My Father’s house are many mansions, and I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go to prepare a place for you, I will come again and take you to myself that you may be with me where I am.” (John 14:3)

Peace that in the Eucharist your Lord Himself dwells in you: “Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him.” (John 6:54) So “greater is He who is you than he that is in the world.”

I could go on and on, but you get the point, don’t you? The gift of the Spirit, the gift of peace, this comes to you concretely in the gift of words, of promises. Words that Jesus gave you to find a home in you, that you might live from them and that they might chase away every anxiety and fear from your heart, that you might know in the depths of your being the unshakable peace that is nothing less than the Gift of God Himself indwelling you.

Jesus' Peace and Love be with you,
Reverend Sue

"This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. " (1 John 4:9-10)

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